I have posted this as a journal entry here before, so I apologize if anyone already read it.!
This is an excerpt, Chapter One of a book I've been writing trying to allow people to see a glimpse into our anxious worlds, while adding a good bit of humor to make some of those scary moments a little less frightening. It's hard sometimes to find humor in these situations, but it really lightens the load if we can try. I really want to be able to reach the reader who is a fellow sufferer who can not only relate to my experiences, but be able to take some of the "bark" out of their own anxiety by realizing just how silly our thoughts can be. Sure, they scare the crap out of us in the moment, but in hidsight...we can grow a lot by realizing how irrational (and funny) some of them are.
So, here it is....
(Note...due to the self editing of curse words here on MH, when you encounter a "****"....it was the "s" word. It's used quite a bit...lol)
by "nursegirl6572" (all rights retained)
Chapter One : “Big Rigs, and Chickens, and Bears, Oh My!”
Mornings. For most people, it is just another time of day with many different tasks that need completed. The vast majority of people breeze through these tasks, almost robotically, without a worry in the world. I hate those people. Why? I don't like them because I'm an anxiety sufferer, and my mornings are a litle more tortured. If you're reading this and have anxiety, you'll probably find yourself nodding furiously while I share my every day routine. If you don't suffer with anxiety, you'll simply think I'm nuts. That's okay. I probably am, but I keep up the good fight, and most importantly, I keep laughing.
“Beep beep beep”. What IS that? Could it be an eighteen-wheeler backing into my bedroom? Sure enough, it will pin me against the wall, severing my body in two, just like in the movies. I will only have enough time left on God’s green Earth to say my “goodbyes” to those I love. Then, the fire company will proceed to pull the truck back, bringing me to a certain quick death, rendering me nothing but a Humpty Dumpty who’s had her last big fall.
No. Wait. Clock. Look at the clock. It’s 6:30 a.m., and the eighteen-wheeler is really my alarm clock! Okay, THAT I can handle. Stretch, yawn, I’m up. I’m awake and ready to face my day. Another day, no problem. Clock..
Oh boy, not even CLOSE to bedtime yet. On the bright side, one whole minute and no swelling of panic, not even a twinge of anxiety. All is right with the world.
Mmmmm, what is that delectable aroma? Coffee? I fall to my knees and give thanks to the wise soul who invented the self-timed coffee pot. The sun warms my face as I make my way into the living room, the skylights pouring sunlight into my home. The house is quiet, meaning to two angels I call my children are still deep in slumber. I gather my favorite coffee cup from the cabinet, a brightly-colored, hand painted yellow rooster mug. My kitchen is happily decorated with roosters, rooster pictures, rooster baskets, rooster magnets. Roosters all around me, enveloping me in their chicken-ness. Is chicken-ness a word? I will have to google it later. I wonder if Roosters have anxiety? They are, after all, “chickens”. Oh well, I’ll ponder that thought a bit later. I pour myself a cup of coffee, the scent fills my nose, I close my eyes, oh how I love that smell. Somehow it is a calming, soothing aroma. I breathe it in.
*******! Who is the nut who invented the clock on a coffee pot?
I do not CARE that the pot needs a clock to brew itself! It is ridiculous that I have to see the time on my coffee pot. I’ve now been up for five whole minutes. That’s IT? FIVE minutes to walk all the way from the bedroom to the kitchen, sniffing coffee and pondering chickens? Will this day ever end? Will it ever START? No panic though, right? No evil butterflies fluttering around in my belly, so why am I being so self defeating? Time to push on. Push forward with my day.
It is time to get my cheerful, morning loving third grader out of bed. I wonder if it would be considered inappropriate to start my nine year old child on coffee? A half a cup certainly couldn’t hurt, right? Anything to make the mornings less stressful, and after all, she LIKES the stuff! I doubt it would really stunt her growth that much anyway, plus, she’s already quite tall, I don’t really NEED her to grow that big, do I?
I would liken waking my daughter up to disturbing a 600 pound hibernating bear with a hot poker, in the eye, only hours after it started its winter nap. Not a pleasant process.
Okay, maybe I’ll skip the coffee for her. Giving a bear coffee would not be a wise choice. A tall glass of orange juice and a warm pop-tart should suffice. ****, no OJ in the house. OJ comes from the grocery store, that frightening place I have been avoiding. There are scary things there. I cannot think about that now, I need to focus. She will have to drink milk. Oh, but then she might grow TOO tall, I wouldn’t want her getting teased in high school. I can hear the other mean kids now, “TOO tall, your Mom should have given you coffee!” Sigh.
I actually have some time before I have to poke the bear. The coffee tastes heavenly. Now what? What to do? What do “normal” people do in the morning? A ha! I will put a load of laundry in, or do a few dishes. No, on second thought, I think I’ll smoke a cigarette instead. That ought to add nicely to my combination morning/coffee breath.
I walk through the sunroom, or Florida room, even though we are not in Florida, I guess some people call them that. I call it a “sunroom”, after all, it IS a room filled with sunshine most of the time thanks to an abundance of big windows. Big DIRTY windows. Wow, I should really clean them, I have to remember to put that on my “to do” list when I go back inside. I give our dog a few pats on the head, which prompts some mad tail wagging. How she loves me. Unconditional love. How I love HER because she loves ME. I wonder if dogs have anxiety? I will have to think about that later, when I think about anxious chickens.
Thump, throb, thud. Thump, throb, thud. Oh no, I just cannot believe this is happening to me, now, in the prime of my life. My heart is beating, I swear it will beat right out of my chest, and why am I so sweaty? Oh, the stroke, that’s right.
For the love of all that is holy, I AM indeed having a stroke, my ears are ringing! Tinnitus! Tinnitus could be a symptom of a neurological event. A cerebrovascular accident. That is the fancy name for a stroke. How do I know all this, including these technical terms? I am a registered nurse, which is so handy in self diagnosing all of my various terminal conditions.
Breathe! Think! CALM down. PHONE! It is my PHONE that is ringing, not my head, oh thank you Jesus, I promise I’ll start going to church. I take a deep breath, and feel a sense of relief start to take over. My body is calming down, thank goodness for that.
“I just wanted to make sure you guys are all up?”, the voice on the other end says.
What the hell is this man I call my husband so damn cheerful about? I’m in the middle of having a stroke for Christ’s sake. Or an aneurysm. Oh YES! It could be that, I didn’t even think about that possibility! I’m so grateful I know my medical stuff. I will be sure to do a thorough Neurological exam on myself after the bus comes.
“Of COURSE we’re up, I was just doing some laundry and dishes before I have wake Susie up”, I say cheerfully, almost believably.
“She’s not UP yet?”, he says, surprised.
“No, I am getting her up now”.
I am getting annoyed now. Who the hell does he think he is? Does he think I am incapable of running my household? I’m doing just fine, thank you very much. I have gotten quite a bit accomplished this morning already, WHILE having a stroke!
“No, I’m getting her up now”, I reply with a touch of irritation seeping out of my voice, masked with a dash of forced sweetness.
“Okay then, have fun I’ll talk to you later”, he says with a tone indicating he has sensed my annoyance.
“Bye”, I say.
Sigh. Everyone is a critic. I wonder if he would have been so flippant on the phone when the paramedics called to tell him that a big rig had cut me in half in our own bedroom?
I hang the phone up feeling ever so slightly guilty. Maybe I should have told him about the stroke. That wasn’t entirely fair. I wonder what he will think when the police, no, the coroner calls him to tell him I have been found dead on the floor from an apparent stroke.
7:15. Time to poke the bear.
“Susie, time to get up! We’re running late!”, I call cheerfully.
Late? How did THAT happen anyway? I’m only on my second cup of coffee, and yet the day is FLYING by.
I hear unintelligible bear sounds coming from the bear’s den upstairs. Hmm, what if a bear really DID somehow get up there, or in the house? Chuckle.. OK, THAT is even too ridiculous for a “what if” thought. Besides, there are no bears around here, and how would it get in? Snicker. Well, it surely would be pretty messy. HORRIFYINGLY messy. Shudder. STOP IT.
I holler another call, this one more firm than the last, “IT IS TIME TO GET UP NOOOOOW!”
Wow, I sounded like my mother that time. She’s taught me well. If MY daughter is a bear, I was a pack of bears. I have it easy compared to my mother. That reminds me, I’d better give her a call today. I have not talked to her in days. I am terrible at calling people and I’m not sure why. Even returning calls is a chore for me. I am so rude. People who love me and have given me the world just want to talk to me. I’m so thoughtless sometimes. I think about my family all the time, but that just doesn’t cut it. I really need to turn over a new leaf. I think I’ll start today. Yes, today is a good day to become a better person. Right after I tend to this stroke.
More horrid sounds, another wake-up call, I’m getting angry. Why does she do this to me EVERY blasted morning? Every day the SAME thing, the same struggle.
“I don’t WANT to go to school, I am TIRED”, she’ll proclaim.
HA! SHE is tired! I have been up for fifty minutes now. I’ve had two cups of coffee, appreciated nature and wildlife, smoked a cigarette (alright, two), escaped death via truck, pondered anxiety in chickens, dogs and cats, thought of my family, talked to her Daddy on the phone, did a load of laundry (oh wait, no I didn’t, I just thought about it), and even started having a stroke, an aneurysm, a brain tumor, SOMETHING in my brain that is getting ready to whisk me off of this Earth. Children can be so unappreciative sometimes. It disgusts me.
The stroke. I must address the stroke. With my grumpy bear now emerging from her slumber and getting ready for school, I can tend to my brain, literally. Excedrin. I’ll try some Excedrin. If it is a run of the mill headache, that will do the trick, it always does. I open the cabinet, boy what a cluttered mess. I better clean the cupboards out today. I’ll add that to my “to do” list just as soon as I swallow these pills. I spy the little green bottle that may just decide my fate. Maybe I should just go to the hospital? Oh, but there will be PEOPLE there. Most likely, a large group of them. They are much scarier in packs. Like wolves. Like panic-inducing vicious wolves. No thanks, I think I would rather have the stroke.
What IS she doing in that bathroom? Taking a bath in the sink? Re-decorating? Has she gone unconscious due to some odd, rare form of coffee-aroma poisoning? Oh God.
“What MOM?”. Nine year old pre-teen translation, “You are the most irritating human being on the face of the Earth whether you birthed me or not!”
“What ARE you doing in there? We have to go down to the bus stop in exactly 9 minutes or we will miss the bus!!”
Cue childhood flashbacks of bus-missing terrors for all thirteen years of my school career. Oh, what unpleasant emotions. Yuck.
(Valley girl voice) “Well, DUH, I KNOW that Mom, you tell me the same thing EVERY day!, she says with an irritated, fed-up sigh.
“Ok, sweetie, let’s go then”. (Translation, “Well then, learn how to tell time and get your OWN damn self to the bus, you ungrateful small person! So much for almost DYING in childbirth for you! Pah!”)
Aww, toddler sounds, and right on time. At least my son understands time constraints. He wakes up almost every morning when he is supposed to. I doubt is has anything to do with my daughter and me yelling back and forth at each other for an hour.
My sweet cherub is awake. He WANTS to see his Mommy. He has yet to learn that Mommy is stupid and annoying, despite Susie trying her hardest to teach him that. That’s my boy. My little angel. His sister used to be the same way, I don’t know what happened to her. Maybe I should take her to counseling. Note to self, add “counseling” to “to do” list. I wonder if there is a family counselor close by. I would hate to have to take her to an office 10 traffic lights away. I doubt I’d make it if that were the case. Then, I would have to explain to the counselor why we did not make our first appointment. How embarrassing.
Oh my GOD, two minutes until we have to coast down the long driveway (a torturous 15 second trip) to meet the bus. TWO minutes? ****, time to get in gear.
“Good MORNING, sweet pea!”, I say as I walk into my son’s room. There he is, my little man, his arms outstretched, waiting for his Mommy, Queen of the cool people. In his eyes, I am his morning savior, I free him every day from the confines of his slumber place, opening the world up to Tonka trucks, legos and coloring books. A heroine, that’s what I am.
I breathe deeply, taking in his sweet baby scent, lifting him into my arms. What is THAT? What is that sensation? Wait. My shirt, it is SOAKED. Nice. Quick edit, “Good morning, sweet PEE.”
One, maybe TWO minutes until departure to the dreaded bus stop is mandatory. Turbo diaper change, Queen Mommy is in high gear now. SECONDS, we only have SECONDS until “Go TIME”. No time for a fatal stroke now. Baby changed, CHECK; Baby dressed, CHECK; daughter somewhere in the house, CHECK. 7:37, CHECK! 7:37? Record baby preparation time. Even I am impressed with myself. We may end up making it after all. Funny, we make it every day, and every day we follow almost an identical routine.
I hear my daughter, frantically yelling something about her “High School Musical” tennis shoes and that she will wear no others. Mom, the finder of shoes is being beckoned. But wait, Mommy has to poop. HUH? What? Right NOW?
Well, of COURSE, tis one of the many joys of having an anxiety disorder: nerves of tinfoil, racing thoughts, the deadly disease du jour, and POOPY PANTS SYNDROME. In medical terms, PPS is the uncanny ability to make oneself have to move his or her bowels on command, coupled with the unnatural fear of laying the fecal egg in his or her pants, instead of in the pot. Really. That’s what it is, and I am almost POSITIVE it is an actual medical term.
Ok, Mom in action. Kids in car, buckled up, turn car around. RUN back into the house for a ten second colon emptying purge. Check cell phone for time.. Hell, I do not even have time to check the time, that is how close we are. Hand washing will have to be optional this time. As a result, I’ll worry about the dysentery, cholera, and typhus fever later. Time?
Bus arrival is 7:43-7:44 sharp. **** **** ****. Literally. ****. Mom turns into Mario Andretti for the 300 foot drive down the hill. Stop. Car in park. Ignore strange looks from children. Breathe. Thump thud thump. I hate the bus. Thump, thud.
Not now. Stroke, you are just going to HAVE to wait two minutes before I can deal with you.
Did we miss it? Am I going to have to drive the six miles TO the school? Oh God, but there are PEOPLE there. And a line of inescapable cars with people IN them.
What is that sensation? Is it panic? Is it just the rush of a crazed morning? The brain tumor exploding inside my skull? Oh no, I know what that feeling is. The urge to defecate. AGAIN. Why NOW? Are you kidding me? I CAN’T go now, because then my daughter WILL miss the bus for sure, and that would be much worse. Breathe, damn it, breathe.
Salvation! A bus! With it’s blinking lights! Not only “a” bus , but “her” bus. Oh yes! Oh yes! There IS a God.
Stupid bus driver is late. Like we have all day to wait for HIM. The nerve.
Kiss the kid, wish her a good day at school and cheerfully wave my “I’m a normal Mommy waiting for the bus” wave at the bus driver. What the heck, I’ll even flash him a friendly smile as well. After all, he is transporting my daughter to and from school every day and I appreciate him. Even if he WAS one minute late today.
The cute little blonde boy strapped in his car seat behind me is giggling at the cows across the street.
“Yes, mooooooo, honey, a cow says mooooooo”, I smile.
7:46. I made it, I did it. I survived another morning in my anxiety ridden world. Wow! I am PROUD of myself. And I have been up for an hour and 16 minutes. Oh yes, life IS good, stroke and all. I turn around and slowly pull back up the driveway, as if I am sightseeing. After all, there is no rush, I think I’ll enjoy the drive.
Now, my only pressing decision is oatmeal vs. Cocoa Krispies for the little boy. Oh, and to tend to this nagging headache.
A Headache! That is all it was and already, it is improving! Cool. The sun is shining, what a pretty fall day. I just love that cool, crisp autumn breeze.
I’m thinking today may be the perfect day to head to the grocery store. I may pick up something special for dinner. What would taste good? Chicken? Fish? Maybe I’ll get the ingredients for tacos. My family loves tacos.
But wait. There will be PEOPLE there. Scores of them.
I had no idea that it was so intense for anxiety patients. The time watching, the constant thinking about everything! Wow..I have always though anxiety was simply another aspect of depression but it certainly stands alone as a disorder.
You are a tough cookie for putting up with all of that!
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